Al Seef is a new shopping, hotel and restaurant lifestyle destination in Dubai that’s modelled on the ‘old Dubai’ of the early 20th century, when the city was a pearl diving and fishing village.
It celebrates Emirati culture with buildings that pay homage of the Arabian souqs of old – narrow streets, market stall traders and buildings that have been built to look as though they’ve been there for a century.
As Time Out Dubai says, “there’s deliberate rust on street-side pillar boxes or electrical outlets, and air conditioning units, while modern and efficient, are made to look as if they’ve been there since the ’60s”.
This is what makes Al Seef like marmite for visiting tourists, you’ll either love it for the beautiful design and old world charm, but complete with Starbucks and other Western brand names (and touchless sensor taps in the immaculate public bathrooms), or you’ll hate the historical superficiality.
If you ignore the fact that the 1.8-kilometre strip on the Al Fahidi Fort and Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood side of Dubai Creek is brand new, you’ll love the wind towers and market stalls that make for a great Instagram shot of your port call in Dubai.
This is an area steeped in history after all, it was the site of the earliest settlements in Dubai and even now the Creek remains a major trading area, frequented by wooden dhows that ply between the city and Africa and South Asia.
The 1.8 km-long strip is split into two very distinct regions. There’s the modern site that has the contemporary office buildings and modern hotels, complete with a yacht marina and wide waterfront promenade.
Then there’s the old side, with local and international designer boutiques and cafes and restaurants blended in amongst the old stone buildings.
If you prefer the nitty-gritty of the ‘real’ old Dubai, do a walking tour of Karama and the nearby Gold Souq, but if you want to experience the souq-like shopping available in Dubai, while still being able to get Baskin Robins and Starbucks, Al Seef is the place for you.
Al Seef is located near Al Fahidi Fort and the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood along Dubai Creek. The nearest metro station is Burjuman Metro station (green and red line intersection), which is about a ten to fifteen minute walk away.